Room 24

Mannerism, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt

This room explores three strands that shaped Netherlandish painting during the first half of the 17th century: the tradition of Northern Mannerism, and two extraordinary artists, Rembrandt van Rijn and Frans Hals.

Inspired by art produced in Italy and Central Europe, Mannerist painters in the Netherlands depicted biblical and mythological subjects using dynamic compositions, virtuoso light effects, and idealised figures in contorted poses. Three of the most accomplished artists working in this genre were Joachim Wtewael, Hendrick Goltzius and Cornelis van Haarlem. One of the paintings on display, Joachim Wtewael’s Resurrection of Lazarus (on long-term loan from Wycombe Museum, High Wycombe) has recently been restored at the National Gallery. The Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens also experimented with a mannerist style early in his career.

Frans Hals spent his entire career in Haarlem where he developed a highly individual and expressive style of portraiture. In portraits and genre themes alike, his vigorous brushwork enabled him to convincingly characterize and animate his subjects. His lively approach inspired numerous artists, including Judith Leyster and Jan Miense Molenaer.

Born in Leiden, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam as a young man and quickly gained a reputation for his vivid and insightful portraits. His ambition also led him to paint historical subjects, using strong contrasts of light and shadow to enhance the impact of his scenes and enriching traditional themes with an understanding of human passions.